Special Concert to Wrap Up Black History Month at University Campus

February 22, 2017

The University Speaker Series at Saint Leo University welcomes the public to a dynamic presentation blending music and civil rights history, “From the Railroad to the “Crossroad—The Underground Railroad to the Civil Rights Movement,” at 7 p.m., Tuesday, February 28, in Selby Auditorium, Lewis Hall.  Lewis is the first building on the right, immediately visible upon entering the campus at 33701 State Road 52, St. Leo, 33574.

Admission and parking are free. Parking is available in surface lots and the campus garage.

Kim -and -reggie
The presentation is the culminating event of Black History Month at the university. The performance features two distinguished artists, the married couple Reggie and Kim Harris. Reggie Harris is a singer, songwriter, and storyteller who is steeped in the tradition of African-American spirituals, folk, gospel, and the music of civil and human rights. He serves as the musical education director of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Living Legacy Project, which curates lessons from the modern civil rights movement and current human rights struggles. Kim Harris is a composer, recording artist, and music teacher who performs works from the Underground Railroad and civil rights movement. She earned a doctorate from Union Theological Seminary in New York City in worship and the arts and is a liturgical consultant for the Archdiocese of New York Office of Black Ministry.

Saint Leo University’s School of Arts and Sciences arranged for the Harrises to visit Saint Leo through the Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows program, a special initiative of the Council of Independent Colleges. Member colleges are able to select artists and prominent professionals for a visit of a few days. At Saint Leo, the fellows are asked to deliver a public presentation in addition to visiting classes and student groups.

Saint Leo and the School of Arts and Sciences feels especially fortunate to be able to share the Harrises’ concert with the general public during a year when novels revisiting the Underground Railroad are getting the attention of the reading public. In particular, The Underground Railroad  by Colson Whitehead, has become a best-seller since its publication last year. The book tells the story of a woman escaping slavery in Georgia by heading north, and in a twist, the story incorporates elements of time travel. And this year, an older science fiction novel from the 20th century by the late Octavia Butler, Kindred, has been adapted and re-issued in graphic novel form for a new generation of readers. In Kindred,an African-American woman living in California in the 1970s is subjected to time travel and lands in the pre-Civil War South.

For those interested in a video preview of the Harrises, a clip of a 2014 performance of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxZUgFs58IY.

For more information or special seating requests, please contact Megan Orendorf, administrator of special events for the Saint Leo University School of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at (352) 588-8401 or by email at jennifer.orendorf@saintleo.edu.